D.he Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences is a special place. Known as “Shaninka” – after its founder, the Polish-British sociologist Teodor Shanin (1930 to 2020) – the university works with the University of Manchester, is privately organized and therefore independent of the state in terms of content. With more than 2000 students, it is considered one of the best universities in Russia and a haven of cosmopolitanism. In the “Shaninka” library in the center of Moscow, for example, you can follow exciting discussions, like two years ago when a German cultural theorist spoke about male violence and destructiveness as the core fascination of fascism.
That worked spectacularly in Moscow, where what is sometimes called “toxic masculinity” in the West has powerful representatives. Now this island of academic freedom and critical thinking not far from the Kremlin could be in danger: The rector of the “Shaninka”, Sergei Sujew, was arrested on Monday in one of those Russian criminal proceedings that are so opaque that they appear threadbare.